Photo by Jim Fisher
I’ve been blogging and writing about the Amish for years. Many of my readers are intrigued about their lifestyle; they ask a lot of questions. Sometimes what they’ve heard or what they think is entirely wrong. In today’s post, I want to set the story straight and answer a few questions about the Amish in and around Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
1. Why do they stop school in the eighth grade? It’s not that they don’t believe in education its that they put more value in learning the skills that will sustain them for life. After the eight grade girls stay home to be taught the skills necessary to maintain a home, and boys will begin an apprenticeship to learn a trade to support a future family.
2. Why are they all farmers? Even though the Amish are skilled farmers; that notion is a misconception. The majority of Amish are tradesman and may work in local factories or have cottage businesses to support their families. Young girls and unmarried women may work in restaurants, retail, and hotels to help contribute to a families income.
3. When can Amish start to date? When Amish boys turn sixteen, they are given a courting buggy, which they use to attend chaperoned youth gatherings. Dating or courtship usually begins at these events.
4. Why don’t they pay taxes? This is probably the question I get the most. Amish do pay state, federal, and county taxes. What they don’t pay into is Social Security. With families supporting each other as they get old, the need for an organized Social Security benefit is unneeded.
5. Why can some Amish teenagers drive cars? In every Amish teenager’s life, they get to explore things that would be classified as worldly – cars including. Rumspringa (“running around period”) is a traditional rite of passage in the Amish religion. During this time they are excused from the rules of the church. Usually, when a child turns sixteen, they are allowed to live among the English and experience life as we do. No matter what they do during this period, they are welcomed to come back and be baptized in the Amish church, but once they do so, they are bound to its rules for life.
Tracy Fredrychowski is a country girl, author, homesteader and everything simple living. She has a passion for writing about the simpler side of life, much like the life she lived growing up in rural Pennsylvania.
Her life has always been intertwined with the Amish, and it’s only fitting that she has a genuine passion for their simplicity, sense of community and God-centered lives.
Growing up in Northwest Pennsylvania she spent her childhood immersed deep in Amish Country. The clip-clop of horse and buggy woke her each morning as Amish men drove past her childhood home on their way to work. As a young woman, she was traumatized by an Amish murder that involved a family member and changed her life forever.
Even though she currently lives in South Carolina her travels take her through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin’s Amish Country every year. During those stops, she researches the communities she visits and prides herself on writing Amish fiction that truly represents the Amish culture. She considers herself very fortunate to have made friends in those communities and values the information they share and wants nothing more than to represent their lifestyle as accurately as possible.